A Natural Philosophy as a Way of Life

By Mike Dishnow, September 12, 2010

I prefer a natural philosophy – no masters, no gods. It works for me. I observe the nature I see around me, the natural world, and I develop my philosophy of life around what I observe. It is easy and very fulfilling.

All living things have a life span – animals, plants, birds and insects, the fishes and creatures of the sea, all of the multitude of living things around me come and go. They are born, grow and mature, decay and, eventually “are no longer.” It is the natural cycle. It just “is.”

I sense no despair in the old birches that are slowly disappearing on the shoreline at camp. They have been there as long as I can remember. In recent years, large branches have given way to the winds and winter storms, no longer resilient as in their youth and mature years. They have, too, become senior citizens. They do not weep, they do not look on to “other worlds,” and they do not seek unnatural means to see another spring.

My beloved setter sisters and Boston terrier are advancing in age. They are grayer around the eyes, sleep more and dance less. They are less inclined to do many things – yet, they have not lost their zest for life. A passing cat or a wandering squirrel, a loud noise or a passing truck, all bring them to life as in other years. They still enjoy these things and act in accord. Never, never, do I hear a word of protest, a lament or word of missed opportunities – there are no gods and no dreams of another burst of youth. And they are no less content, if anything more so, than they were last year or 10 years ago. There is no despair.

Every spring I witness the earth and its denizens come back to life. The wild flowers are gorgeous and thrill me year after year. Little baby bunnies frequent my backyard, and ducklings swim past my cabin. In my garden, shoots begin to show as the seeds I have sown germinate and sprout.

As the sun advances north, I find myself cutting my grass more often as the warmth of its rays combine with the summer rains to promote growth. My garden matures as do the ducklings, now small ducks that float by. All is as it is – this is nature.

Never, from anywhere, but my fellow man do I hear regrets. Nowhere else do I see the abject fear of the unknown, the clinging to old superstitions and beliefs, long since betrayed by the advances in knowledge and experiences that negate old belief.

Fear, when experienced by an animal, is instinctual – there may be a danger at hand. Sure there are false starts – the shadow may be a passing cloud, the human one who values all sentient life and would not harm a fly. Deer do become less and less fearful of man at my cabin as they are left unharmed. They learn from their surroundings and environment. My resident deer do not ponder the meaning of life, and I see no chapels in the swamp where they run seeking safe haven. It is all natural and of this world.

As soon as man reaches beyond himself and places his existence on a plane above all other life he begins to have regrets. Only now do nature and its laws seem false and unfair. How unfair for my cycle of birth, growth and death to be. Surely that is not all there is. What is fine for all the other creatures and life forms is not sufficient for mankind.

Sometimes I think that this is arrogance on man’s part. Other times I see it as simple fear, fear of the unknown. Our complex brains are a gift, or are they? Certainly, there are positives and negatives in having a brain as large as ours.

There is a calmness that envelops and overtakes the brain when one is in the throes of an outing in nature or simply pondering all that is. One that rivals the finest glow of alcohol or euphoria of marijuana let alone dreams of the supernatural and worlds to come. With nature there is never any question, never any doubt – it is right there to see.

It seems the closer I have observed nature the less fear I have felt. The less importance I have placed on myself and the more on other people and living things the more content I have become.

I observe the white (albino) moose, and I marvel – I am in awe. I read the latest fundamentalist tract and I feel a faint nausea, I think of all the evil caused by their (black and white) views, and I simply shake my head in wonder. How can it be? This is, after all, the 21st century.

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